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If you are new to this case, we provide the following summary:

Move to ACT (mtA) and other animal service providers (ASP's) witnessed a profound disregard to Indianapolis animals and potential donors when the Trustee (the Humane Society of Indianapolis) of the Mary Powell Crume public charitable trust chose to pursue putting the trust at-risk by using it as collateral for a line of credit for itself. The $3.4M public charitable trust has been working exactly as it had been designed, producing $120,000 annual revenue for the care of animals in the Indianapolis area.

The Trustee of this instrument has a misadventerous fiduciary history -including, but not limited to, a past director using agency money for personal spending, unsubstantiated proof of repayment as well as the agency going through $13M in 3 years.

Community ASP's stepped forward by filing suit in order to protect the trust from this reckless violation. Extinguishing the trust will deprive the central Indiana animals of $120,000 of annual interest income.

Per the directions in Mary Powell Crume's will:

"After the death of my said Mother, and after the death of my said
Husband, I give, devise and bequeath all of the trust estate and property
referred to in Item IV and V of this Will to the Indianapolis Humane
Society of the City of Indianapolis, Indiana as Trustee, to have and to
hold the same perpetually in trust for the sole purpose of using the net
income there from for the relief of animals which come under its care.
Said last mentioned Trustee shall have no power or authority to use
either the principal or the income of said trust estate and property to
pay for the building, equipment, salaries, or any other expenses other
than the relief of said animals."


Where is this litigation now?


The probate court denied the ASP's from having a voice (standing) in this matter. The Trustee helped to achieve this outcome by using limited financial resources to oppose the ASP's. (On Dec 16th 2004, the agency's director petitioned the probate court for money from the trust principal to pay the agency's legal fees "to protect the trust property." http://www.movetoact.org/media/dec17.pdf).

The ASP's appealed to the Indiana Court of Appeals and lost.


So the litigation is over?


Not at all. The ASP's have submitted a petition to the Indiana Supreme Court to hear this important case. In summary, the ASP's feel that the appeals court rendered a decision that conflicts with Indiana law that allows a party other than the Attorney General to have standing in the administration of a public charitable trust.


Why should anyone be concerned about this?


Good Question. Everyone should be concerned about this and here is why:

1. It is disturbing to decency to tell a court that using the funds of a public charitable trust (that is designated by the benefactor for a specific use) to pay legal fees to pursue (mis)use of the trust for a line of credit - is in the service to "protect trust property,"

2. Using public charitable trust funds for deficit spending for a financially-challenged trustee is a violation to the honor of Mrs.Crume, the institution of the Humane Society of Indianapolis, and a betrayal to those who have no voice, the animals.

3 If the ASP's loose this case, a dangerous precedent is being established that will compromise the integrity of the trust code in Indiana. If a trustee, who has stewardship over a trust, is in dire need of money because they verge on bankruptcy, they can use that trust for a credit card for purposes contrary to what the benefactor clearly stated.

The invasion of Mrs. Crume's trust is number 3 that the agency will be depleting. This instrument was meant to perpetually provide interest income for the care of animals.


Are there other concerns about this issue?


Yes, the ASP's have specific objections to the Trustee's accounting regarding 2004 cash distributions to itself (as income beneficiary) from the Crume Trust.

The May 18th hearing to resolve that accounting has been continued three times.

It appears that the Humane Society distributed at least $18,000 more to itself than it is allowed under the Trust's specific terms. See attached at Paragraphs 10 through 14.
http://www.movetoact.org/media/Crume_OBJECTION_TO_23RD_ACCOUNTING
.pdf

In addition, Humane Society (as Trustee) distributed to itself (as beneficiary) more than $40,000 without obtaining prior court approval, as required by the Trust terms and by prior court orders.

The Humane Society admits in one of its agreed motions for continuance, Filed July 29, 2005 Paragraph 2 : "There is a question as to the amount of undistributed income from the Crume Trust that should be distributed to The Humane Society of Indianapolis, Inc."

Finally, the trustee refuses to disclose to the public the terms and conditions of its personal loan against the principal of that public benevolent trust.

Were it not for the initiative of concerned parties raising these specific issues on the eve of the May 18, 2005 hearing on such accounting, there would have been a rubber-stamping of the "trustee's" accounting. Thankfully, with the attention directed toward these specific issues with the accounting; the Attorney General appears to be paying attention to whether the trustee/beneficiary is following the clear terms of the Mary Powell Crume Trust.

Bottom line:

Why should interested organizations not be granted standing to ensure that numerous and overlapping conflicts of interest be removed from the administration of this/any public benevolent trust? Why shouldn't they be allowed to demand the preservation of this public benevolent trust
principal for future income beneficiaries?

There is no better protector of trust money than organizations that have a clear and genuine interest in the trust's generated income stream for the purpose of which it was intended. With that cash stream, the entire community of Central Indiana's animal welfare groups will more easily meet the needs of the community. But if that income stream is lost - everyone looses, in particular, those who have no voice.


Why have I never heard this explained so clearly?


What gets printed in the press is a matter of the agenda of who controls the press and with whom you affiliate. Politics. An entire series on the agency's troubles recently ran in a local business journal. Unfortunately the series was crafted with selective omission of information, inviting readers to believe that the trustee has been victimized by circumstances beyond its control.

Press and PR will frequently trump facts and because of this we need to take care to discriminate between fact and fiction. Intentional misinformation in the animal welfare arena pollutes the environment, wasting time, energy and lives.

Ignoring any form of abuse, (domestic, animal, financial) will not make it go away, rather, it will only assist its perpetuation.